Making Money And Friends In The Handyman Business
There are a lot of people today who just can't take care of all
those "little things" around the house and yard that need to be
done. Painting the cabinets, fixing a leaky faucet, installing a
new plus on the lamp cord or replacing a screen can be real
problems to some people.
And, unless you have in a cave for the past few years, you know
how much it can cost to call in a plumber, and electrician or
carpenter these days.
A Handyman Business (whether it is a man, woman or teenager) may
be just the answer!
Calling a professional plumber, electrician or carpenter for even
a small, uncomplicated job is expensive: most of them charge for
a house call, a hefty markup on any parts plus $25 or so per hour
for their time (and of course, most also have a minimum charge).
Much of the time, they are called for "minor" jobs that most
handyman could handle: replacing a wall socket, fixing a leaky
faucet or repairing a cabinet door. These are classic examples of
what most any handyman could do with ease!
They can perform literally hundreds of tasks that elderly and
handicapped people might not be able to do, or a busy executive
might not have time for.
It is unusual for a home owner to be charged $30 to $50 to have a
10 cent washer replaced.
Simply because it was replaced by a master plumber who must be
paid for his time, training and investment. Talk about job
This problem is magnified in cases where rental agents send
plumbers to replace washers and electricians to fix appliance
plugs. This work must be done now - and, who else can they call?
The home handyman can solve most of these minor maintenance
problems for a rental agent, and leave only the truly difficult
jobs for the $25-per-hour-plus professionals. Yet, the handyman
can charge $10 hour and be a godsend to many thankful customers.
To go into this lucrative business, you need only some household
tools and some advertising about the type of work you do.
Business cards (or a rubber stamped card, Notices on community
and supermarket bulletin boards, a small ad under Services in the
paper will do to get the ball rolling. Add a pair of magnetic
signs for your car or truck as soon as you can afford it.
Be very specific in your conversations and ads about what you do.
This will help avoid getting calls for things you don't do and
spark the interest of those who can use your services. As you
progress the range of tasks you will feel confident to handle
will undoubtedly expand.
If you need special tools, but them as needed for specific jobs -
and let the job help pay for them. If they are really unique
tools, sometimes you can include the total cost in your bill.
At first you may want to charge by the hour, but it will be
better for both you and your customers to charge by the job. You
should make a little more, and the customer won't have to worry
about going over budget.
When you are working, always look around for other things that
you might could take of. You can do them cheaper if you are
already there and still make the same amount of profit.
Naturally, you should always look presentable, act professional
and avoid long (especially controversial) discussions with your
Once you are started and the "word" gets around that you do good
work are honest, you will have no problem getting all the work
Just don't make the fatal mistake of taking people for granted:
always keep your word. If you say you will be there this
afternoon BE THERE or at least call. Many businesses have failed
because the owner neglected his customers!
Find a building supplier that will give you a business discount
to increase your profit margin. You can hire helpers, but be sure
they measure up to your standards of honesty and good work
letting them go on a job by themselves.
If you can find reliable helpers with additional skills, you
willable to expand your services. Work with your helper first,
until you are sure he/she can handle jobs -- then send them out
on jobs where they get paid by the hour and you, by the job.
Another possibility is to contact out-of-town home owners and
arrange to take care of their places (including calling a
professional when necessary). Have agreements with other services
to refer each other (you recommend a specific plumber on a tough
job; he recommends you for light ones).
If you get stuck, there are plenty of repair manuals around: many
are on file in your local library.
Also, check Business Sources below, for discount book suppliers
(Dover has many how-to and fix-it books in the $2 to $5 range).
Another trick is to contact the manufacturer or authorized dealer
on how to repair or service one of their products.
If you don't see their address, get their name and look up their
address in Thomas Register, a large set of green colored
reference books at the library.
Perhaps the most lucrative and desperately needed handyman type
service is for rental agencies and real estate companies.
These businesses spend thousands on upkeep and repairs and seldom
have time to find out whether the problems are serious or simple.
A typical rental agent gets 10% of rents collected -- and never
even visit the unit being rented. When the tenant complains about
something not working, the agent calls a service company and gets
it fixed -- now.
Often, the price is less important that worrying about the tenant
moving out. If you make up a little brochures of what you do, how
to get in touch with you, and an idea of what you charge, and
take it to 4 or 5 rental or real estate agents, you will probably
at least be called to see how to you do.
In fact, it would not be surprising if one or more of them wanted
a guarantee that they would be priority one -- which is something
you might consider if the price or retainer is right.
For example, you could agree to treat one wholesale customer as
priority one if you did not make it a secret. That is, when calls
come in, tell your retail customers you will be there as soon as
your contract work permits.
There are two major potential problem areas in this business: the
first is overloading yourself with either too much work, or jobs
that you find you cannot do.
To avoid this trap, make sure your customers understand you are a
"helper," and that you will do the job if you can. If you can't
say so as soon as you can, refer the job and do not charge the
Of course, if the professional you refer pays you a finder's fee
that is a different matter. The other "no-no" is not keeping your
It takes time and money to build a reputation in a business, but
a good reputation can be ruined in short order if the word gets
around that you don't show up when you promise or your work is
not as represented. Pay your bills, keep your word and do a good
job and your business will thrive!
DISCOUNT BOOKS, INC.,427 Ferry St.,Newark, NJ 07`05. Discount
BARNES & NOBLE, 126 Fifth Ave.,New York, NY 11011. Discount
DOVER PUBLICATIONS, INC.,31 East 2nd St.,Mineola, NY 11051.
Discount books, clip art, stencils, etc.
QUILL CORPORATION, 100 Schelter Rd.,Lincolnshire, IL 60917-4700,
312/634-4800. Office supplies.
NEBS, 500 Main St.,Groton, MA 04171, 800/225-6380. Office
IVEY PRINTING, Box 761, Meridan, TX 76665. Business stationery.
Write for price list.
SWEDCO, Box 29, Mooresville, NC 28115. Rubber stamps and business
USA PRINTING, 160 Washington SE, Ste 30, Albuquerque, NM 87108.
Quality printer. Envelopes and letterheads. Fast and courteous
service. Write for price list.
ZPS, Box 581, Libertyville, IL 66048-2556. Business cards and
letterhead stationery. Will print your copy ready logo or design,
even whole card.
WALTER DRAKE, 4119 Drake Bldg.,Colorado Springs, CO 80940. Short
run business cards, stationery, etc. Good quality but no choice
of style or color.
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